BLM honors two wildlife biologists for leadership

The Bureau of Land Management has honored two wildlife biologists for their contributions to conservation.

Geoff Walsh received the Linda Seibert Career Achievement Award, which honors outstanding and sustained leadership in conservation efforts on BLM lands throughout a career. TWS member Matt Rustand received the Jim Yoakum Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the accomplishment of early to mid-career BLM wildlife and fisheries biologists.

“Collaborating with a diversity of natural resources partners, Geoff has, from the beginning of his career, found common ground for conservation and other uses of the public lands,” Frank Quamen, the BLM’s acting deputy division chief of Wildlife Conservation, Aquatics and Environmental Protection, said in presenting the award.

Walsh graduated with a degree in wildlife management from Humboldt State University and served as an aquaculture extensionist in the Peace Corps. He conducted graduate work at North Dakota State University before joining the BLM as a wildlife biologist. After working in Utah and California, he led wildlife, fisheries, riparian, and threatened and endangered species programs for eastern states and served as the migratory bird liaison and division partnership lead.

Walsh was recognized for his expertise with wilderness management, wetlands management, migratory bird conservation, threatened and endangered species management, riparian conservation, assistance agreement work and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Walsh “is committed to resource conservation with a vision to the public need for that natural world appreciation and experience,” Quamen said.

Rustand was recognized for the work that has included nine years at the BLM field office at Colorado’s Royal Gorge Field Office in Colorado, where he has been a leader in bat management and conservation. Rustand also serves as treasurer of the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

The field office, which includes a mix of public lands and a growing urban population, presents a variety of land uses, stakeholders and conservation challenges, his nominators noted. “Matt quickly realized that success would require maintaining existing partnerships as well as forging new ones,” wrote colleagues Glenda Torres, Robin Sell and Carol Dawson.

To expand his understanding of different ecosystems and management questions, he accepted a one-year detail as the wildlife program lead for the BLM Roseberg District in Oregon. “Matt’s willingness to accept a year-long detail early in his career is what makes him an emerging leader in BLM — to get out of his comfort zone, accept added responsibilities and expose himself to new processes and situations that would make him more effective in his job back home,” nominators wrote.

The career achievement award is given in memory of Linda Siebert, an active member of the Utah Chapter of The Wildlife Society whose 22-year career with the BLM ended due to a terminal illness in 2000. The emerging leader award is in memory of Jim Yoakum, the BLM’s first wildlife biologist and a longtime TWS member who served as the first chair of TWS’ certification review board.

The awards were announced at the 85th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, on March 6.

The Bureau of Land Management is a Premier Partner of TWS.

Header Image: The Bureau of Land Management honored Geoff Walsh, left, and Matt Rustand, for their contributions to conservation. ©BLM